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Chapter Mm


WE do not know a nation until we know its pleasures of life,
just as we do not know a man until we know how he spends his
leisure. It is when a man ceases to do the things he has to do,
and does the things he likes to do, that his character is revealed*
It is when the repressions of society and business are gone and
when the goads of money and fame and ambition are lifted,
and man's spirit wanders where it listeth, that we see the
inner man, his real self, Life is harsh and politics is dirty and
commerce is sordid, so that it would often be unfair to judge a
man by his public life. For this reason, I find so many of our
political scoundrels are such lovable human beings, and so
many of our futile bombastic college presidents extremely good
fellows at home. In the same way, I think the Chinese at
play are much more lovable than the Chinese in business.
Whereas the Chinese in politics are ridiculous and in society
are childish, at leisure they are at their best. They have so
much leisure and so much leisurely joviality. This chapter of
their life is an open book for anyone who cares to come near
them and live with them to read. There the Chinese are truly
themselves and at their best, because there they show their
best characteristic, geniality.

Given extensive leisure, what do not the Chinese do? They
eat crabs, drink tea, taste spring water, sing operatic airs,
fly kites, play shuttle-cock, match grass blades, make paper
boxes, solve complicated wire puzzles, play mzhjong; gamble and
pawn clothing, stew ginseng, watch cock-fights, romp with then-
children, water flowers, plant vegetables, graft fruits, play chess,
take baths, hold conversations, keep cage-birds, take afternoon
naps, have three meals in one, guess fingers, play at palmistry,